Tag Archives: wind

The illusion of pipeline invincibility is shattered –WWALS Brief to FERC in Sabal Trail Rehearing

Let’s cut to the chase in the letter we filed with FERC yesterday:

11. Historic new circumstances add up

The sun never set on the British Empire. Until it did.

No one circumstance ended that Empire, but it is easy to point at major events that accelerated its demise, such as the independence of India and the Suez Incident. Its fall started after the illusion of its invincibility was shattered by Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience and other events such as World War II.

The illusion of invincibility of the inland colonial empire of pipelines has been shattered by recent court orders about the ACP, DAPL, and others, and especially by the shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the shuttering of the Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. All of those pipelines were expected to be built, and DAPL actually was built before being ordered to shut down and empty. Now the world knows that pipelines are not inevitable.

All these pipeline projects, like Sabal Trail, were opposed by nonviolent protests and political and legal actions. All those methods of opposition, combined with the sea-change in progress to renewable energy, eventually added up to a new and significantly different world than that in which Sabal Trail was permitted or re-permitted.

The shut down of DAPL and the abandonment of ACP as well as the court rejection of tolling orders make it a new world even since FERC’s June 19, 2020, Order granting a rehearing on Sierra Club’s motion.

FERC should initiate a new [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] EIS that should take into account Sabal Trail’s own track record of leaks and sinkholes, as well as leaks and accidents from [Liquid Natural Gas] LNG export and LNG transport in rail cars, the speeding demise of fossil fuels as evidenced by record low LNG export prices and bankruptcies of frackers, the court rejections of DAPL, ACP, and tolling orders and how much of Sabal Trail could never have been built through environmental justice communities without tolling orders, the coronavirus pandemic, and the rapid rise of renewable solar, wind, and battery power as evidenced by FPL and Sabal Trail partners Duke and NextEra, as well as by FERC’s own numbers. All of those new and significant circumstances make pipelines such as Sabal Trail toxic stranded assets, dangerous to the bank accounts of their investors, as well as to the environment, justice, and human health.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, WWALS asks FERC to grant Sierra Club’s motion for stay of the Commission’s letter order of April 22, 2020, to halt Sabal Trail Phase II, and to commence a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) taking into account all of the above new and significant circumstances.

[Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS]
Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS

For those who are not familiar with tolling orders, they are basically how, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gives federal eminent domain to a private pipeline company, FERC lets that pipeline company take land before any payment to the landowner or even any agreement is reached. Without tolling orders, it’s not clear the FERC will ever get another pipeline built.

Here’s a longer explanation. Continue reading

Industry press: WWALS and Sierra Club oppose FERC rubberstamp of Sabal Trail compressor stations 2020-04-23

Sabal Trail is no exception to widespread pipeline opposition, notes a prominent fossil fuel industry publication, especially for the recent decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to authorize operation of Sabal Trail’s Phase II Albany, GA, compressor station during a virus pandemic. Neither Platts nor the AJC noted the Dunnellon, FL, compressor station was also authorized in Phase II, even though that site already leaked before station construction started.

[Platts: Sabal Trail Phase II Compressor Stations]
Platts: Sabal Trail Phase II Compressor Stations, from FERC Sabal Trail Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Maya Weber, Joe Fisher ed., S&P Global Platts, 2020-04-23, Sabal Trail gets FERC OK to start compression, over green group objections.

The article first rehearses Sabal Trail’s request for a six-month extension and about-face request for immediate operations, which FERC rubberstamped. You can read about that in more detail in the previous WWALS blog post. That post also has details of the WWALS and Sierra Club objections that the Platts article then notes.

[Site Plan]
Site Plan
PDF

Urging denial

Sierra Club and WWALS Watershed Coalition in recent weeks urged FERC to deny the request in separate filings.

“The Albany compressor station would increase air pollution—which has been linked to higher coronavirus death rates—in a predominantly African American community that has ‘one of the highest infection rates in the country,'” wrote Sierra Club attorney Elly Benson in an April 13 letter to FERC, citing news articles. “Now is not the time to needlessly increase the pollution burden on an environmental justice community that is particularly vulnerable to these threats.” She said 84% of residents within a half-mile radius of the Albany facility are African American.

[Aerial]
Aerial
PDF

But here’s a name we haven’t seen in a while.

Andrea Grover, Continue reading

Renewable solar and wind power now, not coal, gas, or nuclear –WWALS to GA PSC 2019-06-10

Drawing from eight years of speaking at Southern Company Stockholder meetings, and from that Homerville, Georgia explosion that destroyed Coffee Corner and sent three women to the hospital with third-degree burns, here’s a summary of the comments we filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission today. If you can’t go to the GA-PSC hearings tomorrow and the next day about the Georgia Power Integrated Resource Plan, you can also send a comment letter asking the PSC to stop Georgia Power locking in fossil fuels and make them get on with sun and wind pwoer on a smart grid.

[AGL fines, more solar, coal ash disposal, and mercury]

  1. Yes, fine AGL more than $2 million for that Homerville, GA explosion.
  2. Require Georgia power to buy 12 gigawatts (GW) of solar power, not 1 GW.
  3. Make Georgia Power pay to dispose of the coal ash it produced, properly on its own property.
  4. How about make the companies that put mercury in the air to come down in our rivers pay for the costs to recreational fishing.
  5. Stop throwing money down the Plant Vogtle nuclear hole.
  6. Demand Georgia Power get on with wind power.

This about sums it up: Continue reading

Hurricane Michael, Albany to Tifton 2018-10-11

Driving back from a long-scheduled conference in Alabama, from the state line to Tifton was widespread damage from Hurricane Michael. Nothing like the devastation on the Gulf coast, of course, but very unusual for inland Georgia.

[Traffic light repair 15:20:18, 31.6363489, -84.2473075]
Traffic light repair 15:20:18, 31.6363489, -84.2473075

We saw plenty of downed power lines, so don’t be surprised if everybody is power is not back everywhere for a while.

Hurricanes apparently aren’t good at obeying speed limit signs. Continue reading

Farm Bureau pipeline and solar power policies 2018

Pipelines and rivers run through and by farms, and many farmers have solar panels, so it’s interesting to see what Farm Bureau has for energy policies.

Farm Bureau is for fixing FERC by revising the laws that let the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reimburse Congress from fees and charges on the companies it supposedly regulates. Many of Farm Bureau’s pipeline policies are good and sound like it listened to Randy Dowdy. It gets hardcore about eminent domain. There are even a couple of items that, if law, would have been very useful in the recent and upcoming Sabal Trail eminent domain jury trials.

It has some very good solar energy policies, and it is for renewable energy, including incentives; even an electric car policy.

Not all is good. Farm Bureau is for “clean coal”, fracking, nuclear power, and oil and gas exploration everywhere. It never mentions wind power without mixing it with dirtier energy sources.

Title, Policy Book

This is all from FARM BUREAU® POLICIES FOR 2018: Resolutions on National Issues Adopted by the Voting Delegates of the Member State Farm Bureaus to the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation®, Nashville, TN, January 2018.

Some of the policies are weirdly categorized: Continue reading

Powelson leaves FERC with a split board as Sabal Trail loses legal cases 2018-07-02

Just one day before FERC admitted Sierra Club won in D.C. District Court, and a week after Sabal Trail Sabal Trail lost a jury trial in the U.S. Middle District of Georgia in Valdosta, something else at FERC put pause to further pipeline and LNG export rubberstamps.

Ellen M. Gilmer, Rod Kuckro and Sam Mintz, E&& News, 2 July 2018, Powelson’s departure means fallout for pipelines, policies,

Robert F. Powelson by FERC
Photo: FERC, of Robert F. Powelson, via E&E News

Robert Powelson’s decision to exit the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission less than a year into his term could leave natural gas pipeline developers in the lurch and policy critics scrambling for how to approach the commission’s coming 2-2 partisan split.

That’s the consensus among Continue reading

Fossil fuels are a far bigger threat than the Russians

Leaks of hazardous materials, explosions, land takings, sinkholes, frac-outs: these are far bigger threats than Texas Rep. Lamar Smith’s Committee report “that states Russian agents were attempting to disrupt U.S. energy markets and using social media to purportedly stir up protests against pipelines such as Sabal Trail,” as a reporter asked me about recently. Smith’s report doesn’t mention that solar and wind power are growing far faster than his favorite, fracked methane gas.

Energy source growth by sector
Business Council for Sustainable Energy by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, February 2018, 2018 Sustainable Energy in America.

Elsewhere I already looked behind Lamar Smith’s fossil fuel smoke and mirrors, and found I post more on social media than the tiny Russian numbers that horrify him.

His actual examples are seriously rolling-on-the-floor laughable, such as this: Continue reading

FERC inadvertently clears path for renewable energy via storage 2018-02-15

FERC just let slip the wolves of sun and wind by enabling the storage that those sunny twenty-first-century “aggregated distributed energy resources” (DER) will use to blow down the straw houses of traditional twentieth-century so-called baseload capacity coal, oil, and nuclear power plants.

FERC Commissioner Robert F. Powelson called out the “participation model” Thursday’s twin orders enable, bypassing many traditional charges by accounting for physical characteristics that do not change over time, recognizing that batteries, sun, and wind power are basically different from old-style dinosaur power plants. Commissioner Neil Chatterjee named Senators Ed Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse as proponents of these new rules, which is very interesting since both have long been proponents of renewable energy, and Sen. Whitehouse called out FERC for failing to implement the DC Circuit Court’s Order on greenhouse gases. Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur said “Electric storage is like a ‘Swiss army knife’”. Maybe more like the South Australian storage utility player that has already out-responded natural gas during coal plant outages. Commissioner Richard Glick says sun and wind power “no less than energy storage, have the potential to play a leading role in the electric grid of the future”. None of the Commissioners could bring themselves to say what they all know: sun, wind, water power with storage will be the electric grid of the future. Former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff and I were right in 2013: solar power will provide more U.S. electricity than any other source by 2023, on the way to complete conversion of everything to sun, wind, water, and storage by 2050.

Frequency response of Tesla South Australian battery
Giles Parkinson, Reneweconomy, 23 January 2018, Tesla big battery moves from show-boating to money-making.

Gavin Bade, UtilityDive, Feb. 15, 2018, FERC issues storage, reliability orders, calls conference on aggregated DERs, Continue reading

FERC cry of wolf delays mandate from DC Circuit Court 2018-01-07 2018-02-07

Court mandate delayed because of FERC crying wolf, even though Sabal Trail has been shut down most of the past six, now seven weeks. So the three little pigs get a temporary reprieve from the Big Bad Wolf of sun and wind power.

Gavin Bade, E&E News, Feb. 8, 2018, Court filings stave off Sabal Trail pipeline shutdown, for now,

But Wednesday came and went this week with no word from the court.

E&E reports that may be because judges need time to consider some last-minute filings in the case.

What are FERC and Sabal Trail so scared of? The wind and the sun:

‘Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.’

So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew his house in, and ate up the little pig.

Illustration In English Fairy Tales, Jacobs, J., 1895, via Boston Public Library, Three Little Pigs
Illustration for The Story of the Three Little Pigs, in English Fairy Tales, Joseph Jacobs, 1895 New York: Grosset & Dunlap (2nd edition?) Boston Public Library.

For the entire four years since the Sabal Trail pipeline was first announced in 2013, renewable energy has produced more new U.S. energy than natural gas, according to FERC’s own Office of Energy Projects Energy Infrastructure Update For December 2017. Those are the wolves Continue reading

FERC cries wolf for Sabal Trail to DC Circuit Court 2018-01-06 2018-02-06

Update 2018-02-08: FERC cry of wolf delays mandate from DC Circuit Court 2018-01-07 2018-02-07.

Instead of answering Sabal Trail’s Friday cry of wolf by issuing new certificates yesterday, FERC instead took that cry to the DC Circuit Court, asking for a delay of today’s issue of a mandate.

FERC did not issue new certificates yesterday, and the Court did not issue a mandate today. Of course, today was merely the first day the Court could have issued a mandate, so we’ll see.

Don’t listen to FERC and Sabal Trail’s cries of wolf, Court! What’s really eating their pipelines is solar and wind power taking over the market.

Illustration by Francis Barlow Aesop's fable The Boy who Cried Wolf, called by him DE PASTORIS PUERO ET AGRICOLIS, 1687
The illustration by Francis Barlow Aesop’s fable “The Boy who Cried Wolf”, called by him DE PASTORIS PUERO ET AGRICOLIS, 1687

For the fourth year running, renewable energy has produced more new U.S. energy than natural gas, according to FERC’s own Office of Energy Projects Energy Infrastructure Update For December 2017. Four years means ever since the Sabal Trail pipeline was first announced in 2013. Those are the wolves after those poor pipeline Applicants: solar and wind power.

Gavin Bade, Utility Dive, Feb. 6, 2018, FERC asks DC Circuit to delay issuing order to halt Sabal Trail pipeline, Continue reading